The Westphalian

Learn about the characteristics, history, and uses of the Westphalian horse, a warmblood breed from Germany.

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Westphalian Horse Breed History

Westphalia is the largest state in Germany and home to the Westphalian warmblood horse.

Westphalian horse trotting in a field

Horse breeding is a tradition in Westphalia dating back centuries. In 1826 the National stud in Warendorf was founded for organized breeding of cavalry horses crossing East Prussian stallions with Oldenburgs, Hannoverians and Anglo-Norman horses.

Westphalian horse cantering in a field

In the early years before the tractor first came on the scene, the Westphalian was considered the quintessential farm horse—the horse that could plow the field, pull a cart to town and even carry a rider.

Today, the Westphalian is bred for versatility: pulling a carriage, jumping, dressage, and eventing.

Westphalian horse conformation

Westphalian Horse Characteristics

The Westphalian has a lighter build than some other warmbloods, with strong well-muscled hindquarters, nicely set neck that comes high out of the withers, shoulders with good angles and a lovely freedom of movement. Yet, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact conformation of a Westphalian. Since they are not specialists for any one type of sport, one Westphalian can look different from another.

Westphalians are branded on the hip with an outlined W with a small design over it. The breed stands 15.3 to 16.2 hand high and is seen in all solid colors.

Swedish show jumper Malin Baryard-Johnsson riding H&M Actrice W, a Westphalian mare, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Swedish show jumper Malin Baryard-Johnsson riding H&M Actrice W, a Westphalian mare, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

For More Information:

Further Reading:

Isabell Werth and Bella Rose
Isabell Werth of Germany rode the Westphalian mare, Bella Rose, to team and individual gold medals at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018.

This horse breed profile was originally published on December 15, 2006.

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